DENVER — Suzanne Morphew disappeared from her Salida home in May 2020. One year later, her husband, Barry, was charged with murder. In April, the judge in the case sanctioned prosecutors for what he described as a "continuing pattern" of failing to turn over evidence to the defense. Two weeks later, Morphew walked out of the Fremont County courthouse a free man after prosecutors dropped the charges against him.
"I have never seen prosecutorial misconduct this egregious in my entire career, and I've been practicing law 30 years," said Iris Eytan, Morphew's lawyer.
Eytan said prosecutors not only withheld evidence, but also falsified information in Morphew's arrest warrant and tried to get a witness to falsely testify at the preliminary hearing last year.
That's why Eytan said she's now launching a campaign to hold prosecutors more accountable, pushing for a new Colorado law that would allow defendants who are wrongfully prosecuted to sue prosecutors.
The idea is similar to the state's police accountability law that was enacted two years ago, which allows people to sue Colorado police officers for their actions on the job.
"Nothing ever happens to prosecutors. They can't be sued. They have absolute immunity. They don’t get charged with crimes. They don’t lose their law licenses," Eytan said.
Last year, Eytan drafted a prosecutor accountability bill, but it didn't make it very far in the Colorado legislature. She's now hoping to get a similar bill introduced in 2024.
"It's time to change the infrastructure on how the system is mismanaged and how much misconduct is caused," Eytan said.
According to Eytan, 30% of all wrongful convictions in the U.S. are caused by prosecutorial misconduct, and 70% of that misconduct involves prosecutors withholding evidence from the defense.
9NEWS reached out to the Colorado District Attorneys' Council for a comment on the story, but they said they were not available.
9NEWS was also unable to reach anybody with the 11th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which charged and then dropped charges against Morphew.
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